It’s nearly 4 years since I have one of the most unforgettable family travels overseas. It was unforgettable since we didn’t book any travel packages from any agencies and it was purely DIY itinerary for Hong Kong and Macau. Apart from that, we are all first times. Just look at that!
It was December 2014 when “the family” decided to go Hong Kong and Macau for the yearly vacation. Why I am writing this now? Well, it’s been a while since we have an overseas travel and I am missing it big time.
This is going to be a different travel story telling since I already forgot all the intricate details on how to get there, the cost, etc. That’s the thing about having a big brother and sister-in-law who organized and booked the tickets and accommodation for us. Thanks God! HAHA!
We live miles away from each other. My brother (and family) is working in Singapore while I’m in Cebu City and my parents are in Leyte. We decided to meet on our destination – Hong Kong. So since my parents are from Leyte, they have to travel to Cebu. My extended family (my sister-in-law’s) were also from Cebu City. We decided to meetup at Mactan International Airport. The flight was about 5am I guess. Yeah and you have be at least 3 hours on the airport before the scheduled international flight. I remember I was still groggy waking up at 1AM for the preparation.
My brother, on the other hand, was not able to book a direct flight from Singapore to Hong Kong. What he got was a trip with stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia prior to going to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Airport – the mishap?
The trip from Mactan to Hong Kong was short (just around 3-4 hours I guess). We have to wait for our brother since he was contacting the Malaysian Airlines because they didn’t find the stroller on the conveyor. Well, that’s quite a welcome to Hong Kong.
We’ve Ridden An Express Train & We Didn’t Know It Was That Expensive!
No one was there to fetch us. We had Octopus Cards (similar to EZ Link Card in Singapore), which we used to board the express train from the airport to Mong Kok train station. We have no idea that it was that expensive. It came to a point that we are the only group that has been left in the train huh! The good thing about riding an airport train is you know you are safe and it’s comfortable so who would not want this ride?
Carrying Heavy Luggage From The MRT Station To Our Accommodation
Did I tell you it was our first time and no one was there to fetch us? All we have is a sketch of the accommodation (which my brother booked via Agoda). We walked a few miles just to reach it. We’ve lost couple of times. We are in the Mong Kok area so it’s crowded. I noticed that we are the only group of travelers that were carrying heavy luggage. It’s the cold season so we brought thick clothes with us, meaning bigger luggage. It was not easy specially when you are ascending or descending to a stair with no ramp.
Accommodation – Dragon Hostel
Dragon Hostel is a dorm type accommodation. We got 2 family rooms for each family (mine and my sister-in-law’s). We chose this since it’s cheap and we won’t be staying much in our room as we will be exploring the country.
There are also lots of hostels in the same building. I think that’s pretty common setup in Hong Kong. It was a pretty decent hostel since it has a water heater. Of course, it’s in Agoda so it gives us the assurance that this one’s good enough for our needs and budget.
You also don’t have to worry about food and other needs when you are in Dragon Hostel since there are lots of stores providing foreign exchange services and stalls selling affordable foods including 7/11.
Oh and by the way, remember the lost stroller? Yes, Malaysian Airlines delivered it at Dragon Hostel. Good job!
Reminiscing Childhood Memories At Disneyland
I was so happy the time I set foot at Hong Kong Disneyland. You know it’s a different feeling when you see the castle in person. Uh I missed it so much! By the way, the Disneyland train was cute too!
Hong Kong Disneyland ticket info here.
I got to see a theatrical play of The Lion King, a street parade that features notable Disney characters in LED lights like Cars, Tinkerbell, and more. Look at the video below (thanks God I found it!):
Fireworks display to end the day:
… and the carousel ride? That’s awesome!
… also the “It’s a small world” ride was also nostalgic.
… my brother, my cousin and I also tried the extreme roller coaster ride. I totally forgot the name. But the ride was also comparable to “The Mummy” ride in Universal Studios Singapore. HAHA! That’s an insane experience.
We didn’t have much time exploring the entire Disney Land. But I really suggest that if you go there, be as early as possible.
Avenue of Stars
The Avenue of Stars is Hong Kong’s homage to notable Chinese personalities in the film industry (including Bruce Lee). It’s also where the Hong Kong skyline is seen. They have their own version of light show. Look at it below:
There’s a cruise in the area. If you still have room for budget, check this out –> https://www.klook.com/activity/11-aqualuna-night-cruise-hong-kong/.
The area is also where you can see Big Ben’s counterpart (Clock Tower):
Rally & Lost Companion
One of the most unforgettable experience was also the time when the father of my sister-in-law got lost when we head back to our accommodation from the Avenue of the Stars. There was a rally at that time and it got us worried. Most of the locals in Hong Kong do not know how to speak English and the communication barrier is really obvious. Thank God, after a few hours of looking, we found Tito Boy (not Abunda LOL)!
Street Foods & Shops
Chinese are known for their exotic foods, right? I can still remember eating a mushroom, which I initially thought was a siomai. Yes, it’s really not that exotic. LOL!
I can still remember that it was crunchy so I never thought I was eating a mushroom. Check the pics below:
and there was this street food that I guess is an octopus?
Funny, I can still recall that most of the menus in local Mong Kok food stores have no English translation of what they are offering. Thanks God there were photos. So what we did is try ordering the ones with photos. LOL!
Milk tea – ah nothing beats authentic milk tea. Since I love milk tea, I ordered one and it’s nothing like the ones I had in Cebu.
We also explored the district and we bought souvenirs (ref magnets, keychains, shirts).
The Culture Trip has a guide on what to visit and things to do in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Check it at https://theculturetrip.com/asia/hong-kong/articles/the-top-10-things-to-do-and-see-in-mong-kok-hong-kong/.
The Waves That Make Us Sick
Macau is just a matter of ferry ride from Hong Kong. It was I guess an hour or more. The wave back then was really big and we the ferry was dancing. I got dizzy and almost vomit. My nephew was really having the hard time. He vomited and cried a lot. It was December, so yes, the waves were angry.
Macau is a separate country from Hong Kong, so you have to pass through another set of immigration check.
We have someone waiting for us at the ferry terminal. The funny thing is that it was the friend of my sister-in-law’s friend. They have not met yet and we don’t have idea how he looks like. HAHA!
Casino Chains – Gambling Capital of Asia (Macau)
In Macau, there are plenty of casino hotels and they provide free bus ride to tourists. Well, you can still ride even if you don’t have bookings to that specific hotel. That’s what I remember back then, I don’t know if it’s still applicable today.
So we did ride the bus and we had a stroll at the casino district of Macau, which they call Cotai Strip.
If you feel like you have to pee, you can go to any casino hotel and act like you are guest. LOL. Our guide for that day works in a hotel and he offered us free coffee to one of Macau’s casino hotel. It’s normal for casino hotels to offer free stuff like that.
When we were having our stroll, we witness a dancing fountain from one of the hotels. The song was “I Survived” by Gloria Gaynor. See it below:
St. Paul’s Ruin
En route to one of Macau’s famous tourist spot St. Paul’s Ruin, we pass through different stores offering bakwa (jerky) and cookies. They offer free samples, which is absolutely awesome. Well, if multiple stores are offering delicious samples for free, that’ll make your stomach full before you reach St. Paul’s. LOL!
St. Paul is a century complex, and not a cathedral (as what Wikipedia says). It is built by the Jesuits from 1602 to 1640. The complex was destroyed due to a fire accident amidst a typhoon in January 26, 1835. St. Paul’s Ruin has been one of the most visited tourist spots in Macau. More history about it at Wikipedia.
I have also noticed colorful buildings near St. Paul’s. I’m not an architect nor a designer but looking at them, I think they are like old European buildings.
Christmas in Macau
Since it was Christmas, we can see lots of decorations celebrating the event. I’m not entirely sure if what I saw was snow flakes because I never heard of Macau having snow. Probably fake.
Why go to Venice when you go to the Venetian Hotel in Macau? From its name, you can already tell that this has something to with this Italian city. There is a section of the hotel that imitates a typical park in Venice with gondola of course! Take a look at some pics.
P.S. Even the ceiling is painted with a clear blue sky.
- secure copies of your hotel accommodation, roundtrip tickets during immigration interview
- consider having a copy of your certificate of employment (COE) if you are employed. Most immigration officers are strict when it comes to those who pose as tourist but are planning of getting a job abroad without the necessary permit)
- remain calm during immigration interview
- have other IDs
- always have your passport when you are out of your accommodation
- exchange your currencies ahead.
- load your Octopus card for Hong Kong’s public transportation system.
- check weather info before going to a specific area
- have a map with you (printed or on your phone – make sure it’s accessible offline).
- get a local sim card if needed.